Smartwatches are still largely in their infancy in tech-terms but that doesn't mean they haven't come a long way since the days of the original Pebble. Having said that, it's still difficult to separate the duds from the wearables deserving a place on your wrist.
Smartwatch manufacturers initially struggled to pinpoint their exact purpose, finding it difficult to reduce the dependence on a connected smartphone. Then they also had to tackle poor battery life and unwieldy designs before finding a good compromise.
Fortunately, then, with newer models that have been recently released, and those that are coming out soon, many of these problems are beginning to be rectified. This has been helped by major operating system updates such as the forthcoming Android Wear 2.0 and recently released watchOS 3.
We've had plenty of smartwatches come through the TrustedReviews offices, so here's our guide to helping you pick the right smartwatch for your wrist.
Moto 360 2 at Amazon.co.uk | Was £230 | Now £177
Pebble Time Steel at Amazon.co.uk | Was £199 | Now £79
Samsung Gear S2 at Amazon.co.uk | Was £306 | Now £283
Huawei Watch at Amazon.co.uk | Was £289 | Now £199
Garmin Fenix 3 at Amazon.co.uk | Was £379 | Now £280
Samsung Gear S2 at Amazon.com | Was $299 | Now $264
Huawei Watch at Amazon.com | Was $299 | Now $213
Apple Watch at Amazon.com | Was $349 | Now $259
Watch: Apple Watch Series 1 vs Apple Watch Series 2
Before buying any smartwatch you should consider what type of phone you use. Outside of a few exceptions, close to all smartwatches need to be paired with a smartphone to fully function, as well as a means to relay your notifications and messages to your wrist,
As a result, if you’re an Android user, you should steer clear of the Apple Watch. Likewise, if you have an iPhone you’ll need to make sure the smartwatch you’re considering runs software that's compatible with Apple's iOS.
If you're looking at an Android Wear watch, it's worth looking to see if it'll get the Android Wear 2.0 update. You can see what watches will be updated in this article. Android Wear 2.0 brings some important and useful updates including Google's smart Assistant, as well as support for standalone apps that don't require a companion on your smartphone, just like on watchOS 3 on the Apple Watch.
If you’re buying a smartwatch that runs proprietary software, like Samsung Tizen or Pebble OS, you’ll also want to check which apps will run on it, as not all of them have mainstream third-party support. Apple's watchOS and Google's Android Wear have much better support when it comes to wrist-based apps.
Why you want it
Before buying a smartwatch you should consider what you plan to do with it. If all you want it for is fitness tracking, or step counting, there are cheaper wearables available from companies such as Moov, Fitbit and Misfit.
Likewise, if you’re not concerned about fitness tracking, there’s no need to purchase a more expensive smartwatch with GPS and a heart rate monitor. If you just want a quick and easy way to check incoming alerts from your phone, you probably won’t need to shell out for an Apple Watch, or Moto 360 2.
However, if you want to use your smartwatch to answer emails or book calendar appointments, you’ll have to pay a bit more and invest in a unit that has either voice command or touchscreen functionality.
Related: Best Fitness Trackers
Battery life is one of our biggest qualms with smartwatches. In our experience even the most expensive smartwatch is unable to last more than one to two days off a single charge. Devices also generally use proprietary charging docks, which adds further insult to injury.
As a result, when buying a smartwatch you should keep in mind that you'll likely have to add yet another item to the list of devices you regularly have to charge. Early watches could barely scrape past a day but nowadays, it's much more common to get two days of battery life before rampantly scrambling for an outlet.
Recent watches have begun offering ultra power saving modes, too, which turn off all the smart features except the time, so you don't get left with a completely useless device on your wrist.
You should also keep in mind that smartwatches don’t have the same longevity as a regular timepiece. When you buy a smartwatch it won’t be with you for life. Like all modern technology, they'll eventually break down or simply become obsolete and unsupported.
As a result, you should think twice before shelling out multiple thousands of pounds for swanky items such as the Apple Watch Edition or TAG Heuer Connected unless you have very deep pockets.
We'll soon be seeing the first wave of Android Wear 2.0 and two of the first have come from LG. These are the LG Watch Sport and LG Watch Style. The former of the two is the more expensive option and, as the name suggests, is geared more towards fitness. It packs in a GPS antenna and heart rate monitor. It also includes NFC support, which isn't available on the Watch Style, meaning it supports Android Pay for convenient contactless payments. The Watch Style, on the other hand, is all about the design and is supposedly the thinnest Android Wear watch to date.
Casio also recently showed off its WSD-F20 ruggedised smartwatch, which will be one of the first to launch with the new version of the operating system. New Balance also unveiled its RunIQ smartwatch geared towards runners and designed in partnership with Strava. The great news is that it's already confirmed that it'll be getting the Android Wear 2.0 update down the line, too.
Then, most recently at MWC 2017 in Barcelona, Huawei took the covers of its Huawei Watch 2. Like LG's recent offerings, there are two distinct versions, the standard and Huawei Watch 2 Classic. The differences mainly come down to the designs, with the Classic using more premium materials – and costing more for it. Otherwise, fitness is at the core of all of the models, with GPS and a heart rate sensor built-in. Other conveniences include Android Pay available for contactless payments. Of course, the other big draw is Android Wear 2.0.
Which smartwatch are you looking forward to? Let us know in the comments.